Gardening Science

The Monterey Bay area has an exceptional environment for agriculture, commercial horticulture and residential gardening. The combination of moderate climate, fertile soil and —usually—adequate moisture supports successful growing and attracts expert horticulturists and botanical researchers.

Last week, the 34th annual Eco-Farm Conference drew some 1,200 farmers, scientists and policy makers to Pacific Grove’s Asilomar Conference Grounds to learn from each other and advance the organic food movement another step into the future. We can all appreciate the work of these visionaries to protect our shared environment and produce healthful foods for our dinner tables.

One of the Eco-farm speakers, Michael Phillips, spoke of the holistic cultivation of tree fruits and berries, with clear vision and practical experience. Later, at Cabrillo College, he conducted a 3.5-hour workshop on this subject, sponsored by the Monterey Bay Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers. I will discuss his fascinating ideas in a future column.

Cabrillo College presents its own Horticulture Lecture Series in the fall. I will pass along information on the next series when it is announced.

Another local resource for gardeners is the UCSC Arboretum’s Ray Collett Rare & Extraordinary Plants Lecture Series. (Ray Collett was the Arboretum’s founding director.) The most recent talk was given by Tim Miller, PhD candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, titled “A Brief History of Clarkia: What a Little Annual Flower Can Tell Us About Big Evolutionary Patterns.” Clarkia is a California native plant named for William Clark, who—with Meriwether Lewis—explored the western United States from 1804 to 1806.

One more science-oriented resource is the UCSC Arboretum’s California Naturalist Program. This program, now in its third year, introduces participants to the wonders of California’s unique ecology and engages them in the stewardship of our natural communities. This is an intensive program that combines a science curriculum, guest lecturers, field trips and project-based learning to immerse participants in the natural world of the central coast. Participants are certified as California Naturalists. This year’s program starts on Thursday, April 3rd. The last meeting is Saturday, June 7th. Lectures will be from 7:00- 9:30 pm every Thursday with most field trips on Saturday or Sunday.

Gardening is applied science, as well as aesthetic experience and healthful exercise.
A complete gardening experience includes occasional digs into the sciences.


The Ray Collett Rare & Extraordinary Pllants Lecture Series

Ray Collett Extraordinary Plants Feb-Apr 2014

Future talks (Arboretum Events Calendar)

California Naturalists

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